18 November 2014

It's time for the obligatory Thanksgiving post!

Well, isn't it?  I rebelled last year and you all punished me for weeks afterwards with lousy numbers of hits, so here's what I'm thinking: let's take some of the classic flavors of this brilliant food-obsessed holiday and apply them to different bases.  What do you say?

Sage: We could all use a cocktail or two on Thanksgiving.  I never thought tequila was appropriate for any holiday other than Cinco de Mayo until I moved to Colorado, where it is almost as well-loved as beer. How about a Tumbleweed? Trust me, it works:

Makes 1 drink

1 oz. lemon juice
6 fresh sage leaves
2 oz. tequila
1 oz. honey syrup*

Place sage leaves in a cocktail shaker and muddle with a wooden spoon.  Add all remaining ingredients and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker becomes too cold to hold.  Strain into old fashioned glasses over ice.

*Honey syrup: combine equal parts honey and hot water; whisk to incorporate.

Rosemary: I like pork. I like rosemary with pork.  I like apples with pork, too, but sometimes it gets too sweet for a main course.  The rosemary in this recipe cuts the cloying sweetness and lightens up a little bit of the fattiness of this cider-cream sauce (but don't worry, you'll still have to unbutton your pants after the big meal, if that's what you're going for):

Pork and Apples with Cider Cream Sauce

Serves 6

1 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 12 (2-inch thick) slices
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons butter
3 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled and thickly sliced
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup apple cider
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare pork, place medallions (slices) between sheets of plastic wrap.  Using a meat mallet or a heavy skillet, flatten each piece to an even thickness of about ¼ inch.  Remove plastic wrap and season both side of medallions with salt and pepper.

Heat a 12-inch sauté pan or skillet over high heat.  Add vegetable oil.  When oil starts to smoke, place half the meat into the pan and sauté on both sides until well browned and thoroughly cooked.  Transfer to a plate to keep warm.  Repeat the process with the remaining medallions.

To prepare apples, reheat pan over high heat.  Add butter.  When hot, add apples, shallots, rosemary, sugar, and salt.  Sauté until apples are golden brown and tender, about 8 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer apples to plate with meat.

To prepare sauce, add cider, broth, and rosemary to pan.  Cook, whisking to scrape any brown bits, over high heat, about 5 minutes.  Add heavy cream; reduce heat to medium and simmer until mixture thickens to sauce consistency, 5-10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Return apples and pork to the pan with the sauce.  Simmer approx. 7 minutes or until pork seems tender and infiltrated by sauce.

Cranberry: You have to have dessert, and I've already taken away the prospects of pumpkin pie (see below).  How about cornmeal, cranberry, and white chocolate instead?:

Cranberry-Cornmeal Shortbread

Makes about 12 bars

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 325°F with a rack in center. Combine room temperature butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, flour, cornmeal, and salt in large mixing bowl. Beat with wooden spoon until combined but not too creamy. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Pat dough into an 8-inc square baking pan to shape the dough into a large square, then to turn it out onto a cutting board. Make parallel cuts to form long 1-inch wide strips, then cut each of those strips in half crosswise to produce sixteen to eighteen cookies approximately 1- by 4-inches. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until just beginning to turn golden on the bottoms, about 20 minutes. Place pan on cooling rack until cool enough to touch, about 20 minutes.

Pumpkin: I thought it would be nice to move pumpkin to the savory category this year, and I also thought it would work with wild rice.  So I searched to see if anyone else had already come up with any brilliant recipes before I tried to reinvent the wheel, and sure enough, Farm Girl Gourmet did it better than I ever could have.  She even got some peas in there: Farm Girl Gourmet's Roasted Pumpkin & Wild Rice Salad

Turkey: I am not a fan of turkey, as those of you loyal to this blog know.  I am also not a fan of Tofurkey, which is a much less controversial statement.  I'm not going to try to replicate either of these flavors because I think they're terrible. Instead, I would like to direct you to the rosemary-tinged pork recipe, above, or to the lovely mushroom and potato pie (isn't that another Thanksgiving Flavor?!), below:

Mushroom and Potato Pie

Serves 6-8

1 pre-made pie crust
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 lb. mixed mushrooms, sliced
1 large Russet potato, peeled and chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar (or other) cheese

Prebake the crust: place in the oven and turn temperature to 425°F (no need to preheat); poke the crust around the edges with a fork and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until it starts to look dry on the surface.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and potato and cook, stirring often, until potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes, or until liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in the garlic, salt, and thyme.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, and mustard. Season with black pepper if desired.

Sprinkle half the cheese in the bottom of the pie crust. Top with mushroom mixture, pour egg mustard over that, and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake one hour, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.